Bishop: Parents wary of letting sons become priests
The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has said many parents are reluctant to allow their sons to become a priest because of the danger of being wrongly accused of child abuse.
He was speaking after the ordination of two priests to the diocese yesterday.
“Many parents would be reluctant to encourage their children to come forward,” Archbishop Martin told Pat Kenny on Newstalk Radio, adding that many cases of abuse go back decades.
“Thank God most of the cases that come to light today are dealing with a known face, a small group of 10 to 12 serial paedophiles who were active in the Dublin diocese over a long period of time together.
“And, because of the strict norms that we followed, I think we have managed to move forward on those cases.
“It is not to be excluded that other cases will come forward and what we do find is that cases are coming forward which go back many, many years and where it is very hard to judge whether this is a valid accusation or not.
“You can see that in the other scandals in the entertainment world where cases are coming forward after 40 years.”
The archbishop also said he had no objection to the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) giving its members a memo of instructions to follow in the event of an allegation of sexual abuse being made against them.
The guidelines were unveiled by the ACP at its recent annual general meeting, after concern within the group that some members who have been falsely accused in the past have not received adequate support from their superiors.
The ACP, which drew up the seven-step information card following earlier meetings with the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland, also spoke of its conpriests... cern over what it sees as a “guilty until proven innocent” culture, which it claims has left many innocent priests traumatised.
Archbishop Martin said: “I have no objection to people having a card like that. It is a horrific experience for me to have to speak to a man who has been accused and watch the reaction, whether that allegation be true or false.
“Certainly, if it is false, it is a real tragedy.”
Newly ordained priests, Frs Bill O’ Shaughnessy, from Castledermot, Co Kildare, and James Daly, Shanagarry, Co Cork, with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin outside St Mary’s Pro Cathedral Dublin, after their ordination ceremony yesterday.